The MVD were also a lot more than troops.
They were founded in 1918 as the NKVD or People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs. At that time they were basically the police force or militia (officially the RKM – workers’ and peasants’ militia). In the USSR as in Tsarist Russia the police did much more than in a Western country. They controlled internal passports, residence permits, printing permits and many other minor administrative functions usually done in the west by miscellaneous civil servants. They also were responsible for fire fighting.
In 1934 the state security and intelligence organs – originally the Cheka, then the GPU and then OGPU – were merged into the NKVD to create a super-police ministry. Along with domestic security and foreign intelligence personnel (NKVD-GUGB) the OGPU’s border and internal troops were also merged into the NKVD (NKVD-GUVPV).
In 1943 (and for a few months in 1941) the state security side was formed into a sperate ministry, the NKGB leaving the NKVD with police, firefighting and all border and interior troops.
In 1946 all Soviet Pople’s Commissariats (NK) formerly became Ministries (M), thus the NKVD became the MVD and the NKGB became the MGB and later KGB.
The MVD have remained basically unchanged since 1946 although they were called the MOOP (Ministry for the Maintenance of Public Order) in the 1960s. Throughout the Soviet era and into the modern Russian era the MVD controls:
- all police in the country
- interior troops (the VV or vnutrennaya voiska)